New Fundraising Act Allows Churches and Universities to Collect Donations

(FINNBAY) – Helsinki, 20 October 2013. Our sources report that the Ministry of Interior of Finland prepares to set off a new “collection act” by amending Fundraising Act to allow churches and universities to collect donations without an exclusive permit.

Helsinki Cathedral (Evangelical Lutheran) Courtesy of Debarshi Ray.

Helsinki Cathedral (Evangelical Lutheran). The church was originally built as a tribute to the Grand Duke, Nicholas I, the Tsar of Russia. Courtesy of Debarshi Ray.

Currently, non-profit organisations must register themselves exclusively to be allowed to receive donations. Churches and universities are not able to register themselves to receive donations.

The Ministry noted that the new Fundraising Act will allow even special corporations and foundations to be able to register a project or an organ that is charitable purpose to be allowed to collect donations.

Apart from special circumstances, the new Act allows churches and universities in Finland to receive donations without any special registration to the government.

The Ministry of Interior in Finland is led by Päivi Räsänen who were under criticism in supporting Finnish government’s compatibility with Christianity. In July 2013, Päivi Räsäsen made a comment about what needs to be done when faced with a conflict between a common sense and Bible. In her speech, she implied that the person should follow the doctrines of Bible if there is no supervisory law in the state law.

Currently, members of either the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland and the Finnish Orthodox Church (state churches of Finland) pay an income-based church tax of between 1% and 2%, depending on the municipality. On average the tax is about 1.4%.

In Europe, apart from Finland, Austria, Denmark, Germany, Iceland, Italy, Sweden, and some parts of Switzerland impose church tax to their residents.

In addition to personal taxation, the Finnish state divides some of the money collected by taxing private companies to the two state churches. It does not matter if company is owned by church members or non-members.

With the new Act, the Finnish Evangelical Lutheran Church and Finnish Orthodox Church will be able to entitle to enforce charitable fund-raising activity that is considered as a church charity work.

The new Act also entitles Finnish universities to execute fund-raising activities. The Ministry notes that the universities should allocate donations under traditional educational mission of the University, such as the freedom of research and the promotion of the sciences and arts.

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